Monday Motivator: The First Few Brushstrokes

“…the first few brushstrokes to the blank canvas satisfy the requirements of many possible paintings, while the last few fit only that painting–they could go nowhere else. The development of an imagined piece into an actual piece is a progression of decreasing possibilities, as each step in execution reduces future options by converting one–and only one–possibility into a reality. Finally, at some point or another, the piece could not be other than it is, and it is done.”

David Bayles and Ted Orland, “Art and Fear”, page 16

Being decisive in making a brushstroke isn’t the same as being confident it’s the best possible brushstroke, or will give me the most desirable result. It isn’t done with any kind of certainty other than knowing that if I want a painting to progress, I need to get paint onto the surface, and this is my best guess as to what to do next. And again, and again.

What I can feel confident about is that I can adapt to what it’s turned out to be, overpaint it, or wipe it off, Or abandon the painting and start again.

On the best of days, a painting seems to suggest what wants to happen next from the ingredients and techniques I have to hand, that is the medium(s) I’m using and the marks I know I can produce. The rest of the time, I paint along in the hope I end up somewhere satisfying.

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